If you drive down any highway in South Florida you will find that there are always trucks about. These heavy vehicles tend to make people nervous. They are big and heavy and can cause much more damage than a regular car accident. As South Florida truck accident attorneys we understand the dangers these vehicles present on the roads.
To protect drivers against dangers posed by trucks the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) recently introduced new rules which put more focus for safety on the driver of the vehicle rather than the carrier. This new rules are embodied in the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA). The purpose of these rules is to reduce the incidence of accidents causes by trucks by addressing the main causes. The main mechanism by which the CSA hopes to reduce truck accidents is by monitoring on the drivers.
Drivers are monitored using the BASIC system which looks at seven (7) factors. These factors include, unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, drug and alcohol use, vehicle maintenance, load securement, size and weight faults, and crash history. The above mentioned factors can be used by Miami truck accident attorneys to determine the liability of a driver or carrier. The BASIC system should be effective and up to date as drivers scores are updated every thirty (30) days.
We briefly looked at the BASIC categories above, but they deserve a bit more of attention and detail:
1) Unsafe Driving. This category looks at whether the truck driver has any speeding, reckless driving, or other sort of relevant traffic violations 2) Fatigued Driving. This category looks at whether truck drivers are ill or fatigued. A violation would consist of exceeding hours of service, keeping inaccurate logbooks, or driving while ill or fatigued.
3) Driver Fitness. This category looks at whether driver has the proper training or experience to drive vehicle in question. It also looks at whether the driver may have a physical condition that should keep him from driving.
4) Controlled Substances and Alcohol. This category looks at whether driver has used a substance legal or illegal that has impaired his/her ability to drive vehicle.
5) Vehicle Maintenance. This category looks at whether vehicle has been properly maintained.
Violations may include faulty lights or brakes among other maintenance failures.
6) Cargo-Related. This category includes failure to properly manage cargo such as shifting loads and spilled cargo.
7) Crash Indicator. This looks at the crash history of the driver.
To further road safety the FMCSA has also started the pre-employment Screening Program (PSP). This program allows carriers to electronically analyze crash records when hiring a new driver. No doubt this information is helpful as it helps keep unsafe drivers off the road. However, in some circumstances it may be helpful as evidence in negligent hiring claims. In Jones v. C.H. Robinson 558 F. Supp. 2d 630 (W.D. V.A. 2008) and in Schramm v. Foster 341 F. Supp. 2d 356 (D. Md. 2004) the Courts determined safety ratings could be used to show negligent hiring. Thus, perhaps BASIC driver ratings can be used to show negligent hiring in Florida Courts.